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The Computer Buzz April 12th, 2007

Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Fact


How We Met Cactus Jack

A couple of readers e-mailed asking how we came to know Cactus Jack, the character we wrote about last week. It all started back in the summer of 1999.

Nome often takes me to task over my tendency to bash the competition. She says I am far to negative when I talk about Gateway, Compaq, Dell and the rest of the "package" computers. She also thinks I should lighten up on computer stores like Fry's, Comp USA and the rest.

One day a customer overheard Nome chastising me for a comment I made about Dell's lack of customer service. He said, "If you think Paul is bad you should hear "Cactus Jack," up at Rainbow Computer. Paul can't hold a candle to "Cactus Jack" when it comes to bad-mouthing the competition".

It didn't take long for Nome to decide that it would be worth our time to pay a visit to "Cactus Jack." She reasoned that if I could be made to see for myself how I sounded, I might change my ways. "A dose of my own medicine" she called it. That Saturday we drove up to Rainbow to see "Cactus Jack."

Rainbow is a back country ranching community strewn along the east side of highway 15 about 30 miles north of San Diego. On a dirt crossroad east of town where Rainbow Creek tees into Jubilee we found it. The sign read "RAINBOW COMPUTER EMPORIUM -- If we ain't got it, you don't need it."

We walked across the wooden porch and through the saloon style doors. "Cactus Jack" scowled at us from where he sat behind the cash register. "What the hell you want, can't you see I'm eatin my lunch?" He waved a half empty whiskey bottle at us and belched. He was a short stout man with a drooping salt and pepper mustache and a sweat stained, misshapen cowboy hat. I knew I was going to like him.

Nome whispered, "Be quiet and listen, I'll do the talking."

"Hello Mr. Jack," she said pleasantly. "We've been computer shopping and want to know how your computers compare." Jack squinted at her suspiciously, "compared to what?" "Well," she hesitated, "how about compared to Gateway Computers?" Jack rolled his eyes. "Them meadow muffins wrapped in cowhide don't deserve to be called computers. Folks that's stupid enough to buy em wind up callin em "Gatecrashers."

Nome blinked and took a step backwards. "What about Compaq?" Jack leaned forward and smirked, "Compaqs you say? I hear the service techs call em "Comebacks." They say that every one of them suckers gotta "comeback" at least twice before you can git em to work right!"

Nome met his smirk with an innocent smile. "And Dell?" Jack snorted, "They sure knew what they was doin’ when they named it to rhyme with Hell. You cain't even get the case off'n one of them hogs without bustin somthin loose, not that there's anything worth looking at inside of em anyway."

Nome continued, "How about IBM and HP?" Jack stood up and leaned forward across the counter toward Nome. His pale blue eyes barely showed through his squint. "Whar I come from, if'n a man ain't prideful enough to go by his god given name, he ain't considered to be much force. Don't never trust nobody or nothing that goes by initials."

"Well," said Nome, "the people at Fry's said" - Jack interrupted "That second hand junk store? The only thing their sales clerks know anything about is service contracts." What about Comp USA?" Asked Nome. Jack spat into a coffee can on the counter and wiped his mouth with his sleeve "Them buzzards is owned by the Mexican Telephone Company, TeleMex. Does that tell ya anything?"

Nome shot a triumphant glance at me. "So I gather that you would recommend that we buy a new computer made right here at Rainbow Computer?" Cactus Jack glared at her. "I don't know why you'd jump to that conclusion. We ain't no better than anybody else. Here lately I've come to think we might be worse than some." With that Jack belched again and sat down hard in his chair. He was winded.

Nome started backing past me toward the door. I whispered to her to wait in the car and that I would be right out.

I joined Nome in the car a few minutes later and as we pulled out of "Cactus Jack's" parking lot she asked, "what on earth could you possibly want to say to that horrible man."

I looked in the rearview mirror. "Cactus" was watching us leave from behind his swinging doors. "I just had to kneel down and kiss his ring." I said. "We were in the presence of greatness."





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